Why They Fight


There are many, many Americans who simply find it inexplicable that foreigners would wish to attack people from the United States . After all, our government is unique in human history: We are always on the right side in any conflict. Although Americans are very keen on spotting duplicitous politicians from other countries, we're very blessed by Providence to have moral leaders who can be trusted to do the right thing. In contrast to other nations, which launch aggressive wars under phony pretenses in order to grab more territory or natural resources, the noble United States only fights when provoked, and always advances the causes of liberty and justice in the process.

As I say, the above may be a bit simplistic, but basically that's what most Americans truly believe. And it's precisely that inexcusable gullibility that no doubt helped the 9/11 hijackers, and all of the 'Saddam loyalists' operating in Iraq , rationalize their murderous conduct. (NOTE: I am not condoning violence in any way, shape, or form: I'm a pacifist. I'm just trying to get Americans to realize how anybody could possibly hate this country.)

Let's run through this very slowly: The #1 reason we invaded Iraq was that Saddam Hussein HAD weapons of mass destruction, and we couldn't trust an evil dictator like him to behave responsibly. President Bush told the American people this in no uncertain terms, and Secretary of State Powell's testimony to the UN, though much more careful than Bush's State of the Union case, was at best grossly inaccurate if it turns out that Iraq had no WMD.

Now Powell has just come out and admitted that Iraq may not have had weapons of mass destruction, after all. As reported by the Associated Press:

Powell was asked Saturday about comments . . . by David Kay, the outgoing leader of a U.S. weapons search team in Iraq, that he did not believe Iraq had large quantities of chemical or biological weapons.

'The answer to that question is, we don't know yet,' Powell told reporters . . . .

Powell acknowledged that the United States thought deposed leader Saddam Hussein had banned weapons of mass destruction but added, 'We had questions that needed to be answered.

'What was it?' he asked. 'One hundred tons, 500 tons or zero tons? Was it so many liters of anthrax, 10 times that amount or nothing?'

What can I say about this? Am I just incredibly na've, or do others agree with me that Powell's statements are simply stunning? Is he really saying, 'Yes, we invaded but at the time we weren't sure whether Iraq had 500 tons or zero tons'??

This is not a mere quibble. If Powell had, say, told the UN that Iraq had 500 tons of WMD and it turned out that Iraq only had 385, that would be worrisome but understandable. But if it turns out that Iraq had zero tons, well . . . that's the same thing as saying Iraq didn't have any weapons of mass destruction.

And that means, of course, that the wonderful United States of America invaded another country, killing thousands of people, and to this very day runs it with a military occupation, because of (what is sure looking to be) a phony pretext.

But does the average American care? Of course not. The Powell story was in the headlines on Internet browsers for a day, only to be replaced by a story concerning Dido, Madonna, and Britney Spears (and I'm not making that up).

Incidentally, this issue underscores the true function (and hence danger) of the neoconservative writers who provide 'rational' and 'ethical' justifications for Bush's foreign policy. It's not that the average American even reads the columns of a Jonah Goldberg or buys the books of a David Frum. But these intellectuals can experiment with various arguments defending the US invasion, and then these arguments get batted around Internet chat boards and the like.

Higher-ups can then monitor what happens. If it looks like most of Rush Limbaugh's callers, for example, are content with the fact that Saddam was a brutal guy and so our invasion was A-OK, then the Administration can seriously entertain the Clintonesque move of just saying, 'Yeah, what we said was not factually correct, if you want to be literal about it. What's your point? That's behind us, the country needs to move on and confront issues like jobs and health care.'

To defuse any possible misunderstanding: I am not claiming that there is a grand conspiracy. I'm just saying, neoconservative thinkers develop the best way to deal with the possibility that no WMD will turn up before the next election, and provide a sort of test market for these positions among their conservative fans. As the weeks roll on and no WMD turn up, the Bush team must be thinking, 'Okay, we might as well get this over with so that it's old news by the election. First, Powell will come out and prepare people for the bad news. Then Dick or Don will say something, and make it sound like this is no big deal. Everybody trusts Dick and Don on defense. Finally, the President will admit the bad news when we're pretty much convinced that nothing will turn up. In the meantime, let's dig up as many Saddam atrocity stories as we can, and let's get that war crimes trial rolling.'

Oh, let me add one final comment on this whole issue of how foreigners must absolutely despise the United States ' foreign policy. Did anybody else hear the NPR coverage of the inspector who was shown North Korea's alleged weapons grade plutonium? It was hilarious. Even though the geiger counter was going off, the guy's attitude at times seemed very close to, 'C'mon, is this really plutonium? You people aren't smart enough to make real plutonium.'

And so there you have it: Saddam Hussein said over and over that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. But based on our expert intelligence, we invaded anyway, in order to protect ourselves and the world from attack, and also to overthrow a bad government.

At the very same time, one of the absolute worst regimes on the planet is yelling at us that they are developing nuclear weapons, and even invites us to look at samples of their plutonium. So what do we do? Form a committee, and consider sending North Korea some taxpayer money.

Again, none of this justifies violence against Americans. But maybe you can start to understand why some Arabs might not think highly of President Bush.

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Bob Murphy's picture
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